Former Juventus defender Bonucci bitter about exit but keen to return as coach

Leonardo Bonucci has reflected on his acrimonious departure from Juventus before joining Union Berlin, but admitted he is keen to coach the Bianconeri in the future.

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Italy Men's National Team captain Leonardo Bonucci at Union Berlin (@fcunion)

Leonardo Bonucci has admitted that he was left feeling disappointed at being pushed out of Juventus in the 2023 summer transfer window, but has ambitions to return to the club as a coach in the future.

The Italy Men’s National Team centre-back departed the Bianconeri as a free agent to join Bundesliga strugglers Union Berlin. Bonucci has since been locked in a bitter dispute with his former club over the manner of his exit.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca, and as reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport, Bonucci hit out at the Old Lady for forcing him out of Turin but admitted that he had taken time to reflect since making the switch to Union Berlin.

Bonucci’s Juventus departure left bitter taste

Bonucci had threatened to take legal action against Juventus upon being left out of the first team squad in pre-season as new Football Director Cristiano Giuntoli attempted to move him on, despite having a year remaining on his contract. The defender has since come to terms with this though and is focused on adapting to life in Germany.

“Everyone knew of my desire to stay, but I’m going through this period with serenity and maturity,” the 36-year-old declared.

“I am more calm now, less angry about what happened this summer. We have to move on, look ahead. My past at Juve was wonderful. I wanted to end my career at Juve, but it wasn’t to be.

“I’m sure that I always gave my best for the team. Every week I talk to a lot of my former teammates, and that makes it clear that I was an important person in the dressing room. I enjoyed friendships with the veterans and was an example for the youngsters.”

Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci against Sevilla. [@juventusfcen]

Bonucci eyeing Bianconeri hot seat

Having initially joined Juventus from Bari in 2010 and spending the bulk of his career with the Bianconeri, aside from a forgettable season with AC Milan in 2017, Bonucci revealed that he was looking to return to the club in a coaching capacity once he had retired.

The ex-Bari man pointed to Antonio Conte as his inspiration, having won three consecutive Serie A titles between 2012 and 2014, whilst also pointing to former directors at the club as key figures in his development.

“Returning is one of my goals,” Bonucci admitted. “I want to be a coach and if I manage to become one at the elite level, Juve are one of the clubs I would like to coach.

Juventus is a crucial part of my life. I am grateful to Andrea Agnelli, (Giuseppe) Marotta, (Fabio) Paratici, and (Pavel) Nedved, a silent reference. Also to the coach who has changed me the most and helped me grow, Antonio Conte.”

Leonardo Bonucci scores for Juventus against PSG. [@juventusfcen]

Bonucci’s Bundesliga adaptation

Bonucci conceded that he had found adapting to life in Germany difficult after spending his entire career in Serie A, but had slowly found his feet at Die Eisernen despite the club struggling in 15th place in the Bundesliga and already eliminated from the Champions League.

“It was a big change in my life,” Bonucci said. “I’m alone, my family live in Turin. The first month and a half was difficult. I found myself alone in a city that was totally unknown to me. Slowly I got to know people, places, a good group in the team and now everything is easier.”

The defender made 502 appearances in all competitions for Juventus across his two spells, winning eight Serie A titles and the Coppa Italia four times. Having been capped 121 times with Italy, Bonucci netted the equaliser as the Azzurri defeated England in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw to win the 2020 European Championship.

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